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Ethiopia scraps bid to end probe into Tigray abuses ordered early by UN – sources

Ethiopia scraps bid to end probe into Tigray abuses ordered early by UN – sources

GENEVA (Reuters) – Ethiopia has dropped a draft proposal aimed at prematurely ending a United Nations mandate in the Tigray war, diplomats and observers told Reuters after pressure from Western countries.

The International Commission on Ethiopia, the only independent investigation into the two-year conflict that pitted the Ethiopian military against forces in the northern Tigray region, has already found reasonable grounds to believe that war crimes have been committed by all sides.

It is now also investigating “gross abuses” committed since the November peace deal. The United States also determined this week that all sides, including the Ethiopian and Eritrean militaries, have committed war crimes — allegations both sides reject.

Ethiopia circulated a draft proposal to be submitted to the current session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva aiming to end the investigation six months early in an unprecedented move that would also prevent the publication of its findings and final discussion.

But five diplomats and rights sources said Ethiopia has since backed down amid pressure.

The Ethiopian diplomatic mission in Geneva did not respond to questions from Reuters.

Two sources said Addis Ababa dropped its proposal on the grounds that Western countries would not ask for the investigation to be renewed again when it expires later this year. “Western countries sought to prevent them (from making the proposal) by reaching an understanding, as there was a risk that Ethiopia might win that vote,” said Mark Lemon of the Universal Rights Group, a research group.

The investigation is losing political support amid a broader pushback against what is seen as a human rights agenda dominated by the West and opposed by many African countries.

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Ethiopia has opposed the investigation from the outset, calling it politically motivated and trying to block its funding, favoring national accountability efforts.

A UN website showed that the deadline for submission of resolutions was Thursday at 12:00 GMT and that Ethiopia’s resolution was not included in the list. The 47-member Geneva Commission has no legal powers but its investigations sometimes lead to cases before national and international courts.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by William Maclean)

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